25 February 2003
Disarming Rival Factions, Creating Strong National Army, Police Crucial for Securing Afghanistan's Fragile Peace, Security Council Told
NEW YORK, 24 February (UN Headquarters) -- A successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme directed at armed groups, as well as the creation of strong national army and police, was crucial to securing the fragile peace in Afghanistan, the Security Council was told this morning as it was briefed on the situation in that country.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Council that, while the Bonn process -- concluded by Afghan political leaders in December 2001 and aimed at establishing a representative government by 2004 -- had so far successfully averted full-scale fighting between major rival factions, Afghans continued to suffer on a human level from the insecurity created by the conjunction of weak national security institutions and strong local commanders.
The challenges of reforming the Afghan security sector were significant, he emphasized. The national army needed to be built, factional armies needed to be dissolved, and assistance needed to be provided to help ex-combatants reintegrate into civilian life. Also, a national police force needed to be created, the rule of law re-established, the justice sector rehabilitated, and the cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs countered.
Reform of such institutions was made all the more urgent by the complex political activities planned for the next 16 months, he added. The security sector must be able to provide minimal conditions of stability to ensure that the constitutional Loya Jirga and the national elections were meaningful and credible.
Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, Ambassador of Japan in charge of Afghan Aid Coordination, warned that nation-building would not be able to succeed in Afghanistan so long as it remained a land of weapons where dangerous levels of tension existed between various armed groups. Furthermore, the resulting lack of security would prevent donors' resources from reaching remote areas. While disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating soldiers was a good first step, it was not enough to provide lasting security. What was needed was for Afghanistan to create a new national army and police force, institute counter-narcotics measures, and establish an independent judiciary.
Among the challenges ahead were identifying combatants, transparently collecting weapons, adhering to timetables, dealing with commanders to whom large numbers of people were loyal, and acquiring adequate funding. In that context, the more than $50 million pledged at the recent Tokyo conference on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was a good beginning.
The Special Representative of the German Government for the training of the Afghan police force, Harald Braun, noted that rebuilding the police force was vital to future security in Afghanistan. Various conditions, such as continuing international support for the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and diminished interference from regional leaders, had been designated as crucial for success.
He regretted, that currently, not all of those conditions had been met. The overall security situation, with the exception of Kabul, had not improved, and the programme lacked necessary funds. Nevertheless, the timetable was still in place, and there were several positive developments, such as the start of training courses for police officers, and the establishment of a nationwide computerized police information system was being established.
In the discussion that followed, members of the Council raised a number of questions regarding the recruitment of police officers, the viability of the 2004 elections in light of concerns about the security sector, prospects for continued international aid, and plans for effectively tackling drug production and trafficking.
Questions and comments were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Cameroon, Mexico, Pakistan, France, United States, Guinea, Chile, Syria, Angola and China. The representatives of Bulgaria, Spain and Germany were among those who expressed their condolences to Pakistan and Afghanistan, which lost senior governments officials in a recent air accident. Among those killed was Juma Mohammad Mohammadi, Afghanistan's Minister for Mining and Industry.
A statement was also made by the representative of Afghanistan.
The meeting, which began at 10:15 a.m., adjourned at 12:30 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Afghanistan.
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on recent developments and provided an overview of security sector reform from the perspective of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Before doing so, he informed the Council that an air accident had caused the death of the Afghan Minister for Mining and Industry, as well as a high-level Pakistani official, and other high-level Afghan and Pakistani officials.
With regard to the political transition outlined in the Bonn Agreement, he said that the important process of drafting a new constitution had advanced. President Karzai's office was preparing a decree that would establish the Constitutional Commission and detail the main elements of the constitutional process. The decree would provide clarity on the overall process, as well as signal the Government's strong political endorsement of it.
An important part of the constitutional process would be the series of public consultations between April and June that would solicit the views of Afghans on the future political shape of their country. Those consultations would take place in every province of Afghanistan, as well as among the diaspora in Iran and Pakistan, and possibly in other countries where the diaspora was heavily represented. The results of those consultations would be important guides for the Constitutional Commission in its work.
Regarding preparations for the June 2004 elections, President Karzai sent a letter to the Secretary-General on 15 February formally requesting UNAMA's assistance in organizing the electoral process and coordinating international electoral assistance. A few days ago, the head of UNAMA's electoral section arrived in Kabul and had started work. A core team of electoral experts was in the process of being deployed to UNAMA. On the Afghan side, President Karzai had identified a number of candidates for membership in the electoral commission, which was expected to be formed in March. Once the commission was established, it would work with UNAMA's team to create the Afghan electoral authority, which, in turn, would manage the electoral process. An electoral unit was also being set up in the Ministry of the Interior.
The Government, he said, was now engaged in a rigorous process of finalizing its budget for the next Afghan financial year, which would begin on 21 March. Ministries were preparing proposals in consultation with the newly formed sector Consultative Groups, which brought together government actors and the assistance community in a coordinated framework. The proposals would be subjected to an intensive cabinet review and finalized for presentation to the Afghanistan Development Forum, which would begin in Kabul on 13 March. In order to sustain the still-fragile Afghan peace process, he urged all donors to participate in the Development Forum with the same generous spirit that was demonstrated at the Afghanistan Support Group in Oslo last December.
Afghans were optimistic that the international community would fulfil the commitments it had already made for 2003, he continued. The Government looked forward to the provision of between $1.7 billion and $2 billion in aid this year. That optimism was, however, tempered by concerns about the slow pace of allocations. There was also a fear that, as donors monitored the current international situation, they might withhold funds for possible use elsewhere. As a result, those agencies were concerned that they might not be able to meet their existing assistance commitments to Afghanistan.
The human rights situation in Afghanistan continued to be undermined by the poor overall security environment. In the absence of effective State institutions, many Afghans were subjected to arbitrary rule by local commanders and had no recourse to legitimate judicial institutions. UNAMA human rights officers continued to hear of cases of extrajudicial executions, extortion and forced displacement. The UNAMA was maintaining its efforts to build the capacity of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and to engage with local authorities to prevent abuses.
Satellite offices of the Commission were in the process of being opened in Bamyan, Heart and Mazar-e-Sharif. With assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Afghan Human Rights Commission had begun to prioritize the more than 600 complaints that had been lodged with it. That exercise would help the Commission to decide the most pressing cases to investigate, while ensuring that its resources were used as effectively as possible and that positive results were demonstrated.
He noted that recent worrying security trends in Afghanistan highlighted the imperative to both quicken the pace of security sector reform and to consider immediate measures to improve security. While the Bonn process had so far successfully averted full-scale fighting between major rival factions, Afghans continued to suffer on a human level from the insecurity created by the conjunction of weak national security institutions and strong local commanders.
There was continuing worry about increasing threats and actions against international assistance agencies. Purely as a contingency, UNAMA had discussed with United Nations agencies and some foreign missions the response that should be taken if the security situation deteriorated to the point that international operations became unsafe in any given area.
In light of the political importance of the international presence to the peace process, there was a common understanding that the overall approach would be to analyse security incidents on a case-by-case basis, and conduct any potential withdrawal primarily to other locations in Afghanistan, while continuing operations in all other areas as long as that was feasible and safe. He stressed that that was simply contingency planning and there was, at present, no sense among key actors in Afghanistan that there was any area that had, or was likely to, reach a state where withdrawal would be required.
Despite a general sense of concern about security conditions across the country, he was pleased to note the smooth handover of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command from Turkey to Germany and the Netherlands on 10 February.
The challenges of reforming the Afghan security sector were significant, he emphasized. The national army needed to be built, factional armies needed to be dissolved, and assistance needed to be provided to help ex-combatants reintegrate into civilian life. A national police force needed to be created, the rule of law re-established, the justice sector rehabilitated, and the cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs countered. Finally, the bloated and intrusive internal intelligence structures must be reformed so that they no longer inspired fear among the people that they existed to protect.
Security sector reform was made all the more urgent by the complex political activities planned for the next 16 months, he noted. The security sector must be able to provide minimal conditions of stability to ensure that the constitutional Loya Jirga and the national elections were meaningful and credible. Success would depend on a comprehensive, integrated approach that addressed the linkages between the security sub-sectors, and united the efforts of international actors and Afghan leaders at every level. For example, the creation of the new army and police was linked to the successful reintegration into civilian life of the members of existing security forces. That would require political consensus at the local and national level, and international commitment to deliver the required assistance.
Success would also depend on creating fully representative institutions of central government. The upper echelons of the Ministries of Defence and Interior must reflect the regional and political diversity of the country, and they must be seen to work together in the interests of national unity. Only that would build the necessary trust in the national character of the new security forces.
The creation of the army, the phasing out of factional militias, and the effective demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants constituted the linchpin of security sector reform. If those processes succeeded, implementing the others, and the Bonn Agreement in general, would be much easier. Also, as local militias were drawn down, a reformed National Police would have to be created to provide the foundation of law and order across the country.
The counter-narcotics effort had been spurred recently by the Government's active poppy-eradication campaign in the five core poppy-producing provinces. That law enforcement effort had created some tensions, and would need to be accompanied by convincing alternative livelihoods programmes. It was estimated that $20 million to $40 million would be needed in various alternative livelihoods, infrastructure and employment generation projects should be available in the near to medium term. A recent study by United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) estimated that gross income from opium production at the farm level might have been as high as $1.2 billion in 2002. That was more than half of what the Government expected in total international aid.
All of the activities within the rubric of security sector reform were closely linked to each other and to other critical political and economic developments under the Bonn process. Success, therefore, required a great deal of cooperation. He was pleased at the way the lead nations for each sub-sector and UNAMA had coordinated their efforts in Kabul. However, the resources needed to carry out security sector reform were greater than those that the designated lead nations could provide on their own. He urged Member States to provide the necessary financial and material support. The United Nations had established four trust funds for contributions to the police, the justice sector, DDR, and the payment of salaries and the provision of non-lethal equipment to the Afghan national army.
While the international community could and must provide support, in the end the success of the reform project depended on the Afghans themselves. In the months ahead, the political underpinnings of security sector reform must be strengthened by the deeds and words of the Transitional Administration. The police, army and intelligence services were still viewed by too many Afghans as politically biased. The chances of successfully reforming the security sector would be much enhanced if the statements of Afghan authorities on national reconciliation were demonstrably upheld.
Statement by Japan
MUTSUYOSHI NISHIMURA, Ambassador of Japan in charge of Afghan Aid Coordination, was invited to address the Council. He warned that nation-building would not be able to succeed in Afghanistan so long as it remained a land of weapons, where dangerous levels of tension existed between various armed groups. Furthermore, the resulting lack of security would prevent donors' resources from reaching remote areas. While disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating soldiers was a good first step, it was not enough to provide lasting security. Rather, what was needed was for Afghanistan to create a new national army and police force, institute counter-narcotics measures, and establish an independent judiciary.
He was pleased to report that, currently, DDR was in progress in Afghanistan. Soldiers, after meeting with the Disarmament Commission, were required to either join the new national army or demobilize. Those choosing to join the army had to take a recruitment examination. Combatants who chose to demobilize or who failed the test were offered a variety of reintegration packages, including vocational training, a credit scheme, employment through public works, and land grants. He said that his Government would be contributing to DDR in Afghanistan, both technically and financially.
He cited a number of challenges to the task ahead. For example, it would be difficult to identify combatants, transparently collect weapons, adhere to timetables, deal with commanders to whom large numbers of people were loyal, and acquire adequate funding. In that context, he said that DDR would not succeed without the steadfast commitment of all political and regional leaders. Nevertheless, he pledged his Government's support to the process and urged all participating States to do the same.
Statements by Council Members
HARALD BRAUN (Germany) reminded delegates that, at the request of the United Nations and the Afghan Interim Administration, his Government had been leading efforts to rebuild the Afghan police force, a task vital to future security in that country. Involved in those efforts were the disarming of militias and former fighters and their reinsertion into civil society, the creation of a national Afghan Army, the control of drug cultivation and trafficking, and the establishment of a justice system based on the rule of law.
An initial analysis carried out by German and Afghan experts revealed that many police officers had little or no training and were inadequately equipped and paid. The following tasks, thus, presented themselves: reorganization of the police force; restructuring the Ministry of the Interior; and re-establishing a police training system. A three-stage timetable was established to accomplish those tasks. The first stage had already created the basic structures of the new Afghan National Police, the second stage was in the process of consolidating and expanding central structures throughout the country, and the third would ensure the functionality of police forces by the end of 2005.
He said that various conditions, such as continuing international support for the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and diminished interference from regional leaders, had been designated as crucial for success. However, he regretted that, currently, not all of those conditions had been met. The overall security situation, with the exception of Kabul, had not improved, and the programme lacked necessary funds. Nevertheless, the timetable was still in place, and there were several positive developments. For example, training courses for police officers had begun, and a nationwide computerized police information system was being established.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) expressed his condolences to the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan on the deaths of their high-level officials. Regarding the reconstruction programme in the Ministry of the Interior, he asked Mr. Braun how the programme was getting on with the recruitment of Afghan individuals for the jobs laid out in the programme's infrastructure. Could the appropriate people be found in the time frame given? Was the international support broad enough, and was he looking for further inputs from the international community?
ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) asked Mr. Guéhenno about reports of getting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) involved in securing peace and security in Afghanistan. Had there been any contacts on the part of the Secretariat in that connection? Also, was any work being done on the possibility of broadening the area of security provided by ISAF beyond Kabul? He asked Mr. Nishimura whether the DDR programme would be more difficult, given that people might not be willing to volunteer their weapons due to the insecure conditions around them. Also, were the problems of demobilization in all the provinces the same? If not, which parts of the country required greater efforts?
He noted that one of the main tasks of the Afghan police would be combating drug trafficking. He asked Mr. Braun how he envisioned the interaction between the Afghan security forces and those of neighbouring countries, which were also trying to block the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) extended his sympathy to Pakistan and Afghanistan on the recent air accident. He welcomed the pledges made by bilateral and multilateral donors to support the DDR programme made in Tokyo on 22 February. He was concerned about the link between the pledges made in Oslo and the commitments undertaken in Tokyo. Were those going to be additional resources or deducted from the $2 billion pledged as part of the Oslo process? Regarding the link between the operation of justice system and dealing with warlords and the territory under their control, he wondered whether more emphasis would be laid on peace and security rather than consolidating the rule of law. How could the two be tackled simultaneously?
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) asked Mr. Guéhenno what kinds of mechanisms were in place to create national and provincial police forces, in light of the prevailing circumstances in Afghanistan. He also wanted to know if establishing peace in the country would have to involve the drafting of a new constitution. He agreed that a national police force would be good for political stability. Nevertheless, the various warring provincial militias must be confronted. In that context, he wanted to know how Mr. Braun visualized that process and what kinds of resulting conflicts he foresaw.
MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) announced that his Government had offered equipment, weapons, and training to Afghanistan as it developed its new police force. His Government had, thus, proven its commitment to strengthen the Government of that country. He then asked Mr. Nishimura if the design of the DDR process would include measures to curb the smuggling of arms outside of Afghanistan. He also wanted to know how the international community could ensure the cooperation of all factions participating in the disarmament process. Finally, he wished to confirm that the reintegration process would be adequately funded.
JEAN MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said that his Government, together with the United States, was in the process of training the new Afghan National Army. He then asked Mr. Braun about the decree that established the Afghan National Army. Specifically, he wanted more information on the kinds of stages that were designated in implementing the decree. He also wished to know what results it was expected to have. He also asked Mr. Nishimura if disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should be implemented in areas more likely to be successful in order to build good momentum for the programme. In that regard, he wished to know what areas were the most likely to be successful.
RICHARD S. WILLIAMSON (United States) expressed his condolences to Pakistan and Afghanistan. He asked Mr. Nishimura for more details on the funding requirements for the DDR programme, including for vocational training. He asked Mr. Braun to discuss in detail the difficulties faced in recruiting police.
MAMADY TRAORÉ (Guinea) expressed his condolences to Pakistan and Afghanistan in regard to the air crash that took the lives of their officials. He noted that poppy production in 2002 amounted to $1.2 billion, more than half of the international aid expected for Afghanistan in that year. He asked Mr. Nishimura what steps had been taken and needed to be taken to combat that scourge. If opium production was not stopped it could jeopardize the situation in the country.
CRISTIÁN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) expressed his sympathy to Pakistan and Afghanistan on the air crash. Bearing in mind the many problems faced, he asked Mr. Nishimura what the gravest challenge was and which part of county would be most difficult to integrate into the DDR programme. To what extent could past experiences in that regard be applied to Afghanistan? Also, he asked Mr. Braun what he thought about the need for balanced ethnic representation?
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) extended his condolences to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He believed that the DDR process would take a long time and, therefore, must be linked to reconstruction efforts. What was the vision of Mr. Nishimura and Mr. Braun to bridge the gap between reconstruction and demobilization, on the one hand, and the security situation, on the other.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) extended his condolences to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were crucial in a country following 23 years of war. What were the prospects for more resources in that regard? On the building of the police force, what was the connection between that and the DDR programme? How was the recruitment coming along? Also, he asked Mr. Guéhenno whether it was realistic to see elections in 2004?
RAVAN A.G. FARHADI (Afghanistan) gave a eulogy for Mr. Mohamadi, a former Afghan Minister and water management expert, who had died in the recent plane crash.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) asked Mr. Guéhenno about repeated attacks on United Nations personnel in Afghanistan. Specifically, he wanted to know if anybody had considered any measures to reduce the number of such attacks. He then asked Mr. Braun about Afghanistan's new membership in Interpol. He wished to learn if any specific plan existed to involve Interpol in the creation of a new police force.
In response to questions, Mr. NISHIMURA said that doubts had been expressed on how the DDR process would be undertaken. It would be a difficult exercise. At the same time, all the decisions made by the Kabul Government had been discussed and debated through the National Defence Council, comprised of regional leaders. Therefore, there was a general consensus among all those leaders to go ahead with the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. The problem was to test that agreement in practice. Communities were realizing that the rewards associated with the programme could come to their communities. Other communities had expressed the wish to see the programme started in their areas. There would be much resistance, but there were areas that wished to go forward. That might create a "new wind", which might be carried to various areas. He noted that the programme was not going to collect all weapons, such as small and light weapons.
On the related financial aspects of the programme, he said that $50 million was a "kick-off" amount and was not going to be enough for the entire programme, which might take from two to four years. According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates, total requirements would be from $130 million to $150 million over such a period. All donor nations could contribute not only financially, but by bringing aid to the needs of the ex-combatants who needed to be reintegrated. While he could not speak for all donor nations, it was his impression that the commitments made in Tokyo were part of the previous pledges made, first in Tokyo and then in Oslo. As far as Japan was concerned, the $35 million was part of the $500 million the Government had pledged for total reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
Regarding the Russian question about NATO, Mr. GUÉHENNO responded that he had not been approached by that organization with respect to Afghanistan. He then answered the French representative's question about the police decree, saying that it would establish the size of the police, including border and road police, and detail the structure of the Interior Ministry, among other things. The obstacles faced would be the same as those encountered in setting up the army. Specifically, they would entail funding issues and balanced ethnic representation. In that regard, he reiterated the importance of developing police forces outside of Kabul.
Noting that the Angolan representative had asked if it was realistic to hold elections in 2004, he replied that the challenges were indeed considerable. Nevertheless, rapidly establishing an interim government in Afghanistan, a task that had been accomplished, had also been challenging. Thus far, because of the political will of the Afghan people and the commitment of the international community, all deadlines had been met.
Responding to the Chilean question about what kinds of lessons had been learned from other disarmament, demobilization and reintegration experiences, he said that he knew that financing the programme would be a serious concern. Also, there had to be close coordination between such a programme and the reform of the security sector.
In response to the question posed by the Chinese representative, he said that the attacks on United Nations personnel in Afghanistan demonstrated the tenuous situation in that country. He added that United Nations personnel were being instructed to follow strict procedures when travelling within the country, so as to minimize risk.
Taking the floor to answer additional questions, Mr. BRAUN (Germany) told the representative from the United Kingdom that it was difficult, but not impossible, to recruit qualified personnel for the Afghan police force. Fortunately, police work in Afghanistan was considered honorable and prestigious. In response to the second question, he said more international support was needed to strengthen the police system. In that regard, his Government had developed a document of modules containing training, reconstruction, and equipment details. That catalogue could be obtained from various United Nations offices or national embassies in Berlin. He said that, currently, there were 16 nations participating in the project. He reminded delegates that the group was not closed and called for greater participation.
In response to the French representative's question about the presidential decree, he said it was still being developed and, therefore, should not be discussed in detail in a public meeting. As for advice that had been given with regards to the decree, it would be shared shortly.
He noted the Russian representative's question about cooperation between Afghan security forces and those of neighbouring countries, and the Guinean representative's comments about drug production. He then responded that such cooperation indeed needed to be developed and that the new national computerized police information system was attempting to do that.
In response to Mexico's question on national versus provincial police forces, he reiterated that the project's goal was to establish a single, unified national police force for the entire country that would be under the command of the Government in Kabul. Provincial forces would constitute a part of that force; they would not be independent.
Addressing China's question regarding Interpol, he said that part of the police reconstruction project involved building up the Interpol unit in the Afghan Ministry of the Interior. He hoped that Afghanistan would be able to take advantage of that link.
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